Remembering that day still brings out the emotion in Peter Romero’s voice.
“The first word I read was, ‘Congratulations…’” says Peter, excitedly, as he describes opening a fat envelope from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE).
It may have been three years ago, but he admits he still has the letter. The contents represented a full-ride scholarship to a seemingly unreachable program for the son of Mexican immigrants.
The now 20-year-old explains how it was actually a last-minute decision to finish SIUE’s application.
“I was a senior in high school. I had a class paper due the next day, along with the scholarship essay [for SIUE]. I knew there was no way I could finish both. I had to make a decision…” says Peter.
He chose the essay and it seems to have been the right choice. Out of 800-plus scholarship applications submitted, 150 people got an interview with the school — Peter was one of them. Out of those 150, only 20 received a scholarship.
The active Adventist explains this is just one experience, amidst many, where God has shown His passionate love. Peter says that’s what drives him to take on so many roles in church; what motivates him to work with kids; and what grounds him in a faith rooted in service.
“It’s not that I feel obligated, but I want to give back,” says Peter.
In 2021 he plans to complete his degree in Elementary Education. He admits to also being drawn to ministry and is keeping the Seminary in his sights. He wants to be sure that it’s God’s plan, though, and not his own. He says time will tell.
Meanwhile, Peter continues to serve as an elder, guest preacher, assistant treasurer, translator, musician, deacon, assistant secretary, church planter and, his personal favorite, Pathfinder leader.
When asked how he juggles it all, he just chuckles. “Yeah, I’m pretty dedicated . . ., but I’m not stressed. I’ve learned dedicating time to God just gives me energy.” It’s an energy for witnessing he willingly gives to his two younger brothers, the kids he with whom he comes in contact as a student teacher and summer camp staff member, as well as the non-Christian peers with whom he’s connected at his university.
It’s a drive, Peter admits, that springs from an ever-present passion to honor and serve the One who has given him so much. Real Love can do that.
Cheri Daniels Lewis, freelance writer based in Quad Cities area of Illinois